Wowzers! This is my first read by this author, but it will definitely NOT be my last. The writing is excellent, the plot is tightly woven and cohesive, the characters are exceptional, and there is excitement galore. There are several characters in this book that I would love to see in future books, but there is no mention that this book is part of a series – bummer.
Detective Michael Baker is part of Scotland Yard’s newly organized Criminal Investigation Division. Michael is a no-nonsense man who has vowed he will never marry. Not Ever. He’s seen what grief does to those left behind when a law officer dies in the line of duty and he would never inflict that pain on anyone he loved. His father died in the line of duty as did his best friend and brother-in-law. No, he’ll never leave those he loves to cope with the grief and life after he is gone.
Michael is called to the banks of the Thames because a dead body has been found. A beautiful young woman whose life ended much too soon. Michael finally learns she is the wife of solicitor Mr. Harold Radcliff and undertakes the sad task of having the newly bereaved husband identify the body. Something just doesn’t seem right about Radcliff’s reactions. He does all of the correct things – but they just don’t ring true for Michael. Then, when Radcliff refuses to allow an autopsy – Michael is really interested in having one done. When Radcliff thwarts Michael’s wishes and whisks the body away to her family plot, Michael knows he’ll have to find other means to figure out what happened to Marie Radcliff.
Amelie (that is AHmelie) Hampton and her two cousins, Charlotte and Evangeline are all working toward becoming ‘women of independent means’ by living in their aunt’s ‘boarding’ house and working at her newspaper, the Marriage Gazette. Amelie is neither smooth nor polished, but she is a hopeless romantic who firmly believes in finding her knight in shining armor. She performs a bit of matchmaking through her work at the Marriage Gazette – probably much more than her aunt Sally knows. She’s coordinated a potential match and is anxious to see how it is going. She’s met the lady but has no idea who the man actually is, so she hides outside the tea shop where her two matches are to meet – just so she can assure all is going well. But … Oh! No! … the man who shows up is Mr. Harold Radcliff, a man for whom Amelie has a bit of a tendre.
While following Radcliff, Michael sees a young woman spying on Radcliff and another young woman. Hmm – Could this be an accomplice of Radcliff? Michael determines to follow her and confront her. After scaring her nearly to death and getting her story, Michael enlists her aid. Oh! She’ll aid him alright. She’ll prove to Scotland Yard Radcliff is totally innocent.
I loved watching Michael and Amelie – first working at cross-purposes, and then united. Their own feelings for each other developed slowly and the realization came even slower. But, goodness, when that realization did happen.
I definitely recommend this book and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. It is exciting and the resolution of the mystery will have your heart in your throat. I would really love to see future books with Charlotte, Evangeline, Aunt Sally, Detective Winston, director Ellis – and even Michael’s widowed sister, Clarissa.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.